Messi closes on Pele's goal mark as Barcelona move clear
October 29, 2012 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Barcelona star Lionel Messi scores his first goal during the 5-0 victory at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
- Lionel Messi scores twice as Barcelona move three points clear in la Liga
- He has now scored 73 goals in 2012 as he bids to beat Gerd Muller's record
- Third-placed Malaga lose ground on leaders after being held to a draw
- AC Milan bounce back from European defeat with much-needed Serie A win
(CNN) -- Lionel Messi continued his assault on the record for most goals in a calendar year as Barcelona moved three points clear in Spain with a 5-0 win at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday.
The Argentina star netted twice, taking him to 73 overall in 2012 -- just two short of the mark set by the legendary Brazilian Pele in 1959, and 12 behind the milestone set by German striker Gerd Muller in 1972.
He gave Barca a comfortable 2-0 lead three minutes after the break with his 300th for club and country, adding to David Villa's first-half opener, and wrapped up the scoring in the 89th minute.
It took the 25-year-old to a leading 13 goals in La Liga this season and 17 in all competitions.
The victory put more pressure on second-placed Atletico Madrid, who host Osasuna on Sunday.
Barcelona fans hold letters forming the word 'Independencia' and wave Catalan 'Estelada' independence flags in the match against Real Madrid.
Spanish heavyweights battle El Clasico draw
Pep Guardiola waved goodbye to Barcelona on Friday in the only way he knows how -- by winning a trophy. The club's victory in the Spanish Cup final took his haul of trophies to 14 during his four years in charge.
How Pep Guardiola reinvented football
Footless footballer to meet Messi
Cristiano Ronaldo: I'm better than Messi
Defending champions Real Madrid, now 11 points adrift of their arch-rivals, cannot afford to slip up in the trip to Real Mallorca.
Barca thrashed Vallecano 7-0 in last season's corresponding fixture, but this time the home side looked like earning a more respectable result after a first half featuring striker Villa's fourth league goal this season, courtesy of Cesc Fabregas' ninth assist.
But Messi smashed in a superb 48th-minute effort after Marc Montoya delivered from the right, then 25 minutes later veteran midfielder Xavi netted his 50th in La Liga from fullback Jordi Alba's cutback.
Fabregas volleyed in Pedro's cross soon after, and Messi rounded the keeper to make it a five-star showing and extend new coach Tito Vilanova's unbeaten run in the league.
Earlier Saturday, third-placed Malaga lost ground on the leaders after being held 0-0 at Espanyol, a result which left Manuel Pellegrini's team seven points behind Barca.
Real Betis moved up to fourth with a 1-0 win at home to Valencia, while Celta Vigo drew 1-1 with third-bottom Deportivo La Coruna.
Meanwhile in Italy, AC Milan bounced back from the Champions League defeat by Malaga to snatch a much-needed victory against Genoa.
With coach Massimiliano Allegri under pressure after the club's worst start to a season since the 1940s, and owner Silvio Berlusconi sentenced to jail for tax evasion, the Rossoneri were indebted to a 77th-minute goal from young striker Stephan El Shaarawy.
The Italy international marked his 20th birthday with a close-range finish that lifted Milan up to eighth place, with three wins from nine games.
Genoa, in the club's first match under new coach Luigi Del Neri, remained in midtable.
In Saturday's other match, bottom club Siena drew 0-0 with Palermo.
Champions Juventus travel to Catania on Sunday while second-placed Napoli host Chievo.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1309 GMT (2109 HKT)
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1348 GMT (2148 HKT)
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1622 GMT (0022 HKT)
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1411 GMT (2211 HKT)
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1819 GMT (0219 HKT)
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1247 GMT (2047 HKT)
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2241 GMT (0641 HKT)
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
October 10, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.